In 2011, international coffee shop conglomerate Starbucks radically changed their logo. The company chose to remove their name from the logo and reduce it to just the two-tailed siren in white and green. At the time people thought that the radical change could significantly reduce the brand’s effectiveness.
However, the Starbucks logo had become so ingrained in the cultural mind that it really didn’t need the name. The smiling green siren was apparently enough. Just like the Superman logo, it only needed the symbol to immediately evoke delicious coffee and café food.
That is the power of effective logo design to retain the public’s attention and to convey the services of a company.
Let’s explore the meaning and symbolism behind several famous brands such as the Netflix logo and the Star Wars logo.
The Netflix Logo
Netflix was the first of the video streaming companies and has been around since 1997. The company began the first 10 years of its operation as a rental business for DVDs before transitioning to streaming.
Over the years, Netflix has changed its logo multiple times, with the longest logo they used being the company name in white with black shadows over a rich red background. In 2014, the company changed its logo and even updated its animated openings in 2019.
The new Netflix logo inverts the color scheme of the previous one. Instead of being white text on a red background, the new Netflix logo features the company name in the same dark red. It can even be reduced to a single N in the same color scheme but stylized to seem like a folded-up ribbon.
But what does the new logo symbolize?
The new logo is the same rich red as the previous one and they share the same connotation. The red hue used is the same one as is commonly found in cinema upholstery. By using this red color, the Netflix logo is saying they provide cinematic thrills and experiences to viewers everywhere. The folded N of the new logo may look like a ribbon, but it’s actually supposed to look like a red carpet, further building on the link with cinemas and films.
The Pokémon Logo
The Pokémon franchise began in 1996 when it was first developed by Japanese game designer Satoshi Tajiri. The name is a portmanteau of the words “pocket” and “monster”, fitting since the titular Pokémon are often stored in containers called Pokéballs that can conveniently be put in the players pockets. It’s also a meta term because the franchise includes trading cards which players can put in their pockets.
As a franchise that mainly targets children and other younger audiences, the zany yellow and blue color scheme of the Pokémon logo exudes youthful energy and adventure. The text is asymmetrical and mismatched in size, also conveying playfulness.
Aside from the name of the franchise in yellow and blue, an alternative Pokémon logo is the red, white and black of the Pokéball, the most common device for capturing the titular monsters in the games. The symbol immediately signals fans of the games that anything bearing that symbol is part of the franchise. It is sometimes used in place of the letter O such as in some games and variant Pokémon logos.
The Major League Baseball Logo
Baseball is one of the most popular sports in the United States and aside from Little League games and college teams, the biggest franchise in the country is Major League Baseball. Featuring teams from all over the country, Major League Baseball’s logo is understandably simple and effective.
First, the colors of the logo are the same colors of the American flag. The red, white and blue color scheme of the Major League Baseball logo reminds people who look at it that baseball is America’s pastime. This is a fitting moniker since almost 16 million people play baseball in a single year.
Second, the logo features the silhouette of a baseball player in the middle of swinging their bat. This is perhaps one of the most iconic parts of the logo and also connects it with other sports logos. The National Basketball Association’s logo also features the silhouette of a player. It sends a clear message anyone that the logo is about baseball, even without any text.
The final component of the Major League Baseball logo is a small white circle representing the baseball itself. It completes the image portrayed by the design, a player who may or may not be able to hit the ball and win their game.
The Avengers Logo
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the largest film franchises in the world, raking in a collective $23 billion over the past 12 years. And some of the most profitable movies under this franchise are the Avengers movies. Featuring all-star casts, the Avengers films utilize logos based on their comic book inspirations.
The Avengers logo features a stylized blocky text of the team’s name. It is often done with a slight 3-D rendering to make it seem like its moving. As befitting a gritty superhero team, the font is most often done in a slightly metallic edge. Each film featuring the team also has differently colored Avengers logos. The first film’s logo was in dark blue, the original theme. The second featured a sinister reds and silver hue to symbolize Ultron, the film’s antagonist. The Infinity War saga featured two colors: a golden one for the first half of the duology and a deep purple for the second and final Avengers film.
The shorter Avengers logo simply features the iconic A imposed with an arrow. The arrow implies dynamism and action. The A itself is made up of three segments, representing how the team is made of different individuals who must form a cohesive whole to do battle.
The Star Wars Logo
A franchise just as sprawling and no less profitable is the Star Wars franchise. Conceived in 1975 and first released in 1977, George Lucas’ sci-fi space opera has grown into a pop cultural landmark. Aside from the numerous visual hallmarks of the series like Darth Vader’s mask and the variously colored lightsabers, the franchise has its iconic Star Wars logo.
The original logo features blocky yellow letters, with the S connected to the next letter. This design actually evokes the other fonts of the 1970’s which also feature connecting letters, especially if its an S. The bold yellows also signal that this isn’t a grim franchise but rather one for adventure and exploration. Indeed, the yellow of the font also brings to mind another sci-fi franchise set in space: “Star Trek”.
Although the Star Trek logo only has serif text, the more stylized Star Wars logo promises a different sort of viewing experience.
The logo has also changed colors in recent years. For 2017’s “The Last Jedi”, the logo was colored a sinister red most associated with evil doers in the films. This is reflective of the dark tone of the movie and the ascendancy of the antagonists. In contrast, 2019’s “The Rise of Skywalker” features the Star Wars logo in the iconic blue color of the good-aligned lightsabers. It evokes hope, peace and the triumph of goodness over evil.
Logo design is an essential part of company branding. Just ask the good folks at Coca-Cola. The Coca-Cola logo has essentially remained the same in over 100 years of existence. Studying the meaning behind iconic logos such as the Netflix logo is an important part of learning how to build brands and to foster your own creativity.